Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Kids Outside, Shifting Seasons, A Tractor, And So Forth

Tonight I heard a screech from the girls' room. It was Starling. She had just looked out their little patio doors and noticed Hans and Mette jumping on the trampoline. "SUMMER! THEY'RE JUMPING ON THE TRAMPOLINE WITHOUT US!"

I'm still a bit boggled over how it is that they spend so much more time outside here--often on our little trampoline and swing set. But they do. (And Starling is not one to be left out of it!)

Of course having neighbors about--who are likely to show up when they hear sounds of play--likely helps encourage heading out.

They've been riding bikes a lot more as well. And mostly I feel quite happy about it (knowing we are on a little dead-end county road). But I sometimes forget that we do actually have a dairy at the end of our street and trucks laden with hay or semi's carting milk are not completely uncommon! So it's not wholly without risk!

Neighbor kids responding to the call of other neighbor kids outside again.

The weather here has been great. Rather chill in the mornings (low to mid 40s) but then 70s in the day time. My only complaint is that it is getting a bit cold for sleeping with an open window--which I have been doing fairly consistently since we got here. Mike isn't quite as big a fan of the accompanying noises, but I love the outside sounds here! The frogs stopped in August (sadly), but we've been hearing coyotes in the distance lately! And I even like the cows lowing. (Though I will admit that every now and then they've taken to bellowing so loudly that I've had to shut the window. And I should also admit that occasionally we get magpies in the morning. They could never be described as pleasant to hear. The loudest and most squawking cacophony of all. And yet ... I still do like magpies. Always they've been annoying, but, they annoyed me every single summer of my growing up years at Polk's End, and somehow that's established an odd sort of nostalgic loyalty in me. [Several times I recall Tony, in a burst of utter, bleary-eyed, tired madness, going out with his shotgun to scare them off long enough for a few more minutes of sleep. With memories like that tied to the birds, I can't not like them ... even as I might myself be driven to firing a shotgun in their direction.])

But, back to the weather: it's cooler, and the Mendon hills are turning red, and I keep feeling rather shocked that we've lived here long enough to be seeing a change in seasons! I don't really know why, but it feels like something significant somehow to know and see a place through its seasons. The frogs stopping. The mosquitos lessening. The low fogs beginning to appear on the fields in the mornings. Already I look out our little kitchen-sink window and can imagine pastures stretched with snow. And I called Mike today wondering if there was a spot I could plant tulip bulbs at the farm where they wouldn't get mowed down.

And here is something else to share. This John Deere tractor:

Kent Porter--a kind and completely unassuming fellow from our old ward--grew up on a farm north of Preston. He and his wife Kayla lived a few blocks up the road from us in Pleasant View. Theirs was a very nice home in a very nice neighborhood, but certainly not a neighborhood that would ever need to call on a tractor. Still, the farming from Kent's childhood must have kept a little fire in him because some years ago he bought and restored this old John Deere. Mike has commented on it several times--telling Kent he ought to drive it in our local parade or telling him if he ever decided to sell it, to give us a call. But Kent would just smile. He didn't need the show of a parade, and he didn't seem to want to sell what he'd restored either.

So Mike and I were both shocked and a little unsure of how to even respond when Kent emailed last week and said that they were moving in with some of their kids due to some health challenges, and they wanted us to have their tractor. It was just too generous. And somehow made me want to cry--him passing this dream onto us. Mike offered to pay, but Kent didn't even acknowledge that suggestion. And before I knew it, Mike was pulling up with this green tractor and the kids were running out like it was Christmas morning. It felt like some wholesome moment from a time that doesn't exist anymore. When I emailed Kent and Kayla my profuse thanks (along with pictures of the kids excitedly greeting the tractor), Kent characteristically replied with just a simple, "Sure! ... I always knew it would go to you guys some day. I hope it will work well for you."

Oh there are some good and kind people in this world!

And now, because it is quite late, and because I hope I might have a husband showing up soon to give a few tiny moments of attention to before we both collapse in exhaustion, I will just add a quick pile of remaining photos (with a few brief comments where warranted):

Aunt Sar left some surprise Halloween decorations on the front step one Friday afternoon!

Shasta was nowhere to be seen for two or three days. He has not adjusted well to this move. After the first while of being in the house, he mostly stayed hidden in the garage. With his lack of adventuring spirit, his absence had us quite worried something had happened to him. (Remember the coyotes!) And I didn't think I could bear telling Goldie something had befallen her cat! But he came wandering, bedraggled and weary looking, out of the bushes after a few days. Here the kids are fawning over him with milk and cheese. 

Biscuit on the other hand has taken to farm life without a backwards glance. Often I see him traipsing about in some field along our road. And often I discover the remains of his small hunting expeditions in our yard (blech). 

The kids have taken to calling them "Town Cat" and "Country Cat" (you know the old mouse book).

Penny made a rather expensive purchase recently! (That's right. It's electric.) She'd been thinking about it for months and doesn't seem to have a moment's regret! We are all waiting for her to now embrace this newly planned hobby in earnest. None of my kids have had quite such an interest and strong taste in music as Penny. (Though Goldie certainly does love her very country music.)

Daisy nicely drove all the way up last weekend just so that we would have someone to sit with all the kids in church on Sunday while Mike, Penny and I spoke. 

On Saturday she took the kids to a big Logan pumpkin festival. They didn't get a photo by the grand prize pumpkin (as the crowds around it were large), but it was over 1,700 pounds! She also took them all to a park and to buy coloring books (to bribe them into being well behaved for her time on the pew with them in church the next day). What a good sister (and daughter!).

Anders was very excited to have hit two clay pigeons during a Young Men's activity the other night. I can hit a still target all right. But I've never managed a moving one. The Young Men and Young Women in our ward (and their leaders) have really done a great job at welcoming our kids. I'm so grateful.

The Pleasant View kitchen cabinet back up on the wall it fell from several years ago. It seems to me now quite a wonder how many things we simply turned a blind eye to (like the broken shower-door handle) that we might have enjoyed all those years living in Pleasant View! Ha!
(Speaking of the Pleasant View house. It went on the market a week ago. We've had six showings. But not a single offer. Will it ever sale? Why won't someone buy it!)

The End. No Mike yet. But hopefully soon.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Hard and Wonderful, Wonderful and Hard

I don't know that I can ever truly give an accurate picture of life in this little blog/journal of mine. Sometimes, when I read about my ancestors, I wonder about my own posterity: those in generations on down the line. It seems impossible that they truly will exist. And more impossible still that I will have shifted into the role of distant ancestor; a voice from the past with a life long lived out.

What would they know of me through all these words? I would wish to reach from the past and help them feel not alone in their trials. I would wish to, through my own life and struggles and hope, comfort and encourage them. (I loved Paul's words in our Come Follow Me study this week: "Blessed be ... the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the same comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted ..." That's what I would wish to do.)

But no matter how much I write, there's still so much worry and trouble that can only be expressed in prayer and quiet conversations. And so much that is not fully mine to share. And, even within the same small seasons of life--even within the same days--things can flip flop back and forth between much too hard and overwhelmingly glorious. 

I'm in a bit of a season like that right now. It shocks me at times that such extremes of feeling can exist within me all within the same days and weeks. Life right now reminds me a bit of how I have always felt when a new baby has come into our home. Utterly overwhelmed and at times even depressed while also filled completely with some of the most miraculous awe and wonder and rejoicing life has to offer.

I feel in love with living here. I love our puny rental. I love my views. I adore sunsets and sunrises and the mists that hang so often both west and east in our mornings here. I love my kids. I feel so full of joy that I get to be here with them and enjoying these remaining years of small kids at home. I feel so lucky that Mike is mine and that he loves me so well and encourages me and takes care of us. 

And this year! I can hardly believe it! It always amazes me how much can come into a year that you didn't expect as the year started. This entire business of packing up and moving--all it has entailed. I had no idea it was going to happen this year! And it was hard! But also I feel so grateful that we've made the leap and that a looming, near-impossible thing has actually happened, and we are another very large step closer to living on the farm. It feels miraculous. 

But also I'd had no idea, at the start of this year, that Mike and I would spend three to four months virtually apart from one another. (We are in the middle of it now. With still nearly two months to go.) It reminds me a little of 2005 when Mike was in GA for five months. (Though I only had three kids then.) 

We just didn't know, as this year began, that, between major work deadlines and major house projects, he would primarily still be down in Pleasant View while we took on life up here. And mostly I'm fine (and kick myself for complaining when I have ancestors whose husbands were gone, in the early church days, for years.) Still, it's occasionally quite heavy to be each accomplishing necessary things and filling necessary roles for our family ... apart from each other. And it seems strange to me every time I find myself saying something like, "kids! dad's coming up tonight!" like it's some novel thing to see their father. But ... it is right now. And sometimes ... I don't have the emotional energy in me to comfort an anxious child at 10 at night, or to determine how much to push verses just give space to a teenager, or to stop another squabble with no Mike there for back up or to spell me off. 

But the other day, tired of the skinny roads and lack of hills in Young Ward, I took Starling out to Mendon and ran up around the cemetery and into the mountains a bit. (A bit ... I'm not running very far lately, and certainly not when pushing a stroller :)). I let her stop at the park after while I stretched on the grass, looked up at the sky through the leaves of several large shade trees, and called out occasional yes's to Starling: "Yes honey, you can climb that dirt hill! Good job!" "Yes honey, you can go through that tunnel! Just be careful!" I didn't feel any of that "there are a thousand things I should be doing!" guilt I often burden myself with. I just felt my soul praising God and rejoicing in my life and my opportunities and in every small thing: the quiet darling Mendon roads with hills for me to run on, Starling's disheveled hair, the cooler morning. And I do feel a lot of intense joy and gratitude during this tricky time of life. Maybe it's the newness of everything. I don't know. But in the middle of hard and discouraging, I seem to be more acutely aware of all the good things that I love about life right now. I mean the field across the street is being mowed as I type. It's a very long stretch of land, so only about every five minutes do I suddenly see and hear the large combine (mower? tractor? what is it?) smooth another straight row past my front window. And it feels like ... the cheeriest thing. 

Anyway. A whole bunch of photos:

Technology! Isn't it amazing really that when Goldie gets to call on her Wednesday p-days, both Abe and Daisy, wherever they are on campus at BYU, can just tap right into the call as well? It just makes me so happy. 

Bigfoot's mother (who left her two Bigfoot sons for Hans to play with when we first got here) left us a Halloween "toy" the other day. Here Summer is ... enjoying a snack with our new mer-pal.

If I find time to sit still on the couch for a decent stretch, now that the kids are back in school, Starling inevitably comes and falls asleep next to or on me. This little friend. She is so very attached to me. When the kids aren't here to play with, it's rare for her to be ever more than a few feet from me. And I can't leave anywhere without her. I'm not certain how this child will ever go to kindergarten. Still, I'm glad I can so fully be a security and safety for her. Nothing must ever happen to me until she is grown.

I found this picture on my phone. What brave and reckless Calico Critter babies. Where on earth is their mother?

But really! I don't know if these mists will be in College Ward! But they happen often lately. I love them. And it makes us laugh talking about cows in the mist. Also, every time I see it, my mind automatically sings, "some days the fog in Monterey comes drifting from the grove above" from this old Mary Black song.

On one of Mike's "visits" he brought the kids Halloween blankets. They were thrilled. I loved finding Starling like this in her bed the next morning.

This messy-haired boy. I will tell you this. He is a joy and a delight to me. 
His picture of a slime monster sliming a city is also a joy and a delight. ... 

There they are. The cows in the mist.
I wonder how many pictures of our front and backyard view I will have before we leave this place! I've never really taken pictures of scenes much before! But I can't stop! It seems like every morning someone will say, "Have you looked outside yet this morning?"

Calico Critters ready for Halloween. (So many of our toys got boxed up that certain toys are getting used much more frequently. We will likely retrieve more from the storage unit at some point.)

I like that my life is such now that I occasionally call Mike to say things like, "The gate at the barn is down. Also, is Rod's cow supposed to be on the side of the fence by the feeder?" I didn't know I would like that sort of thing. Just like I didn't know that someone going back and forth mowing a pasture across from my front room window would make me feel happy.

Starling's poker face. She would not respond to anything we said. Haha.

Speaking of faces. I sent this picture to Mike and the older kids asking if, without knowing their ages, just the expressions in this photo would give away who the two teenagers were. 

This photo is so great. Abe texted it to all of us. Penny showed it to me before I'd seen the text, and I didn't know who it was for a minute! It was how he looked after his last day working for the tree-cutting guy who employed him this summer. For some reason they'd been doing some shingling that day. 

This is the amount of elevation gain I get running in Young Ward! Hahah. I'm glad Mendon is only five minutes west. Sometimes a girl needs some hills for variety! (My ankle is still so iffy. I have been pleading for a year to be able to run without worrying I'm about to have it give out!)

I really am enjoying this little year of Starling with me in the day. It's so different from how my last two decades have been. 

I like this little "vestibule" area of the rental so much. I mean it's still the first thing people see when they come over, but somehow, its being slightly separate from the main house makes it feel like boots and the like belong there in a way they can't belong when in an entryway. I've been trying to think if our house plan could possibly have an area like this. ...
More photos of the same scene. But this morning it wasn't just haze. It was thick thick fog! (See how you can't see a hint of mountains. Or cows for that matter.) Can you blame Hans for needing to run out to the trampoline when he should have been eating breakfast and getting ready for school?
And below was from earlier in the morning when the light was more blue and less yellow. 

Out front.
Out back. (It makes me laugh how much this trampoline and swing set are getting featured.) 

Mette at night on her top bunk.
And Hansie on his trundle bed. (By trundle bed I mean a mattress that we shove under the bunkbed in the day and pull out again at night.)

Are the mosquitos getting less awful? Or are the kids just getting more accepting of the situation? Hard to say. 
The sky on fire one night. 

And that's all. Oh wait. I thought I had another. 

Oh! Here it is. Isn't Goldie (green dress) the dearest little missionary? 

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